July 20th, 2011
I Wanted To Marry A Latino, Fell For A White Guy

In college there was no doubt in my mind that I would marry a Mexican. I didn’t want my culture to be diluted. I wanted to live in a Spanish-speaking household. I wore Ché Guevara berets with rebozos and Tehuana blouses. I just stopped short of wearing a poncho and purchasing a donkey just to really make a point. I wanted my partner to understand my family, and not judge them for being so incredibly loud.

Fast forward seven years and I am living with my white boyfriend. Throughout my early 20s, I avoided white guys. I didn’t want to “sell out” (though it can be debated that I always was a “sell out”). I didn’t want to live in fear of them saying something racist. I didn’t want to be their “Latina college experience.” Sometimes I believed they wouldn’t even find me attractive. I also didn’t want to have to explain what a “chancla” was or what I meant when I said I was “empachada.” I also didn’t want to explain my Chespirito references (like when I get “la chiripiorca”).

I just wanted them to understand.

But that didn’t work out. The brown men I dated didn’t do well with my independent nature. Some of them were off put by my very non-traditional beliefs and lifestyle. I’m not generalizing, though. I’m sure that there are plenty of educated brown men who are comfortable dating unconventional brown women and don’t secretly want a white girl. Please don’t send me angry emails, for I know these men exist. I, however, never met one who showed any interest in me. Believe me — I looked. Also, the further I got into my education, I’m talking about graduate school, the fewer Latinos I came across.

That is not to say that dating a white man was my last resort. Far from it. I can’t imagine a better partner for myself. I’m lucky to have found him. It’s in meeting him that I let go of many of preconceived notions. For example, not all white people eat boiled hot dogs for dinner, listen to Dave Matthews Band, and do the funky chicken at weddings. These are things I simply did not know. My boyfriend sincerely wanted to know about my culture, he valued my intelligence and was interested in my innumerable opinions. He even watched Chespirito for me. Clearly, to him I wasn’t just some spicy Latina shaking my proverbial maracas. At this point in our four-year relationship, sometimes he makes some salsas that are better than mine. He often speaks Spanish without even realizing it.

Of course, there are tensions that result from cultural misunderstandings. Having grown up poor as hell, my complexes about class have made some star appearances. Also, having been condescended to so many times in my life for being a woman of color — “Oh how cute, that little Mexican girl thinks she’s a writer!” I can be extremely defensive. If I even suspect someone is patronizing me, I lose my temper (cue neck jerk and obligatory “Oh hells nah!”).

Sometimes I’m wrong, though.

Most of the time, I forget that we’re an interracial couple. Once and a while, however, other people seem to be really bothered by it. I can’t count how many times a white woman has given me a dirty look when I’m with my boyfriend. And no, it’s not all in my head! Also, when we go to nice restaurants, particularly with his family, the Mexican busboys look at me with confusion and sometimes judgment and disappointment. I can’t express to you how awkward and guilty I feel at these moments.

At first, my mom was also worried that his family would be racist, which is perfectly reasonable since Mexicans are not exactly considered the upper echelon of society where I come from. I had to reassure my mother many times that my boyfriend’s parents were actually very kind to me. I used to think that the saying “You can’t choose who love” was stupid and sappy because I thought that we could, in fact, chose who to love. That may still be true, but had I dismissed the nice white man I met at the grad school mixer simply because he was white, I would have missed out on the best relationship I’ve ever been in.

There are so many interracial couples in this country, I don’t see why people are still offended by it. We all have our particular preferences. It’s very reasonable to have certain criteria when looking for a partner but consider allowing yourself to be surprised sometimes. And, I suppose, the the world can judge us all it wants because last time I checked, miscegenation was still legal.

Oh Hells Nah is a small and sassy Mexican woman exploring the relationships between poetry, culture, and food. She lives in Chicago, you can check out her blog — like hot dogs for your brain — or follow her on Facebook or Twitter @OhHellsNah.

[Photo By ♥ellie♥]

28 thoughts on “I Wanted To Marry A Latino, Fell For A White Guy

  1. Wow, this article was kind of an eye-opener for me.  I am white, but grew up with a hispanic step-father (who often got questioned by police on traffic stops if my sister and I were his kids…of course we are – he’s our father, he raised us.)  I currently volunteer teach ESL to adults and well, don’t see much racism in the community I teach and am around.  I am even including in some of “their” festivities.  I went to a Posada for the first time this past Christmas.  (i’m catholic too) My last boyfriend is from Mexico.  

    Although to flip this on its head, it quickly became obvious i was back-up for his papers.  This saddened me greatly as perhaps i was to naive to think i would be targeted for this sort of thing – as a white american woman.  But i was.  No matter where you look or go, there will be people out there with bad agendas and bad hearts.  I am grateful for when these people show themselves sooner than later as I quickly know who to stay away from.  There are billions of ppl in the world.  We do get to choose who we hang around, date and even love.  We may not choose who we fall in love with but we can choose to stay with them or not. 

     I have not allowed my heart to harden and become cold as a result of my past relationship.  I’ve learned to ask better questions perhaps and be more careful.  The actions of one racist man most certainly won’t keep me away from the possibilities that the one for me could be Hispanic.  Forget hateful ppl. They won’t breed evil within me as I have a heart of love and it welcomes all.  I believe the writer of this article was surprised to see people of other races such as whites, have openly loving  hearts and yet those within her own race do not.  No matter what race one is, there will always be hateful and loving ppl in it.  I suppose all we can do, especially those in interracial relationships, is expect this and deflect it.  Those with children who raise them with love towards these issues can expect some amazingly strong kids as Kahil Gibran once said: “Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls; the most massive characters are seared with scars.”  

  2. Race is the reason why were so segregated even today. Honey you love your man and be happy, screw the race part. That should be thrown out the window. Wether you believe in god or not it doesnt matter. We are all human and all bleed. We are all the same. Race shouldnt matter. Im a hispanic woman married to a white man with two babies. I wouldnt take it back for anything. If you love him then nothing else matters.

  3. It depends on where you live…

    White and mexican relationships are common place in Texas.

    I’ve dated a few half white half mexican girls growing up and I actually have a preference for mexican and white women. (i’m a white guy)

    Besides. Mexican and American White relationships aren’t really interracial anyway. Mexicans are spanish european…which are caucasians.

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  6. haha i should write my version of this…im aMexican-American from San Diego, CA. engaged to a Norwegian and living in Bergen, Norway.

  7. I can this see how this article can be seen as a tad problematic. (The whole white guy thing, is always the better choice). However, I’m going to sway away and say something else.

    I know what I’m about to say has no relevance to the article, but there was a comment that struck me and I want to let people know – 

    I’m a Filipino who is dating a Vietnamese…and just because we’re both Asian – I consider it an INTERRACIAL relationship!
    Like I said, totally random, and defiantly a red-herring. I just wanted to make this clear. 

  8. Sadly, these same notions apply for educated Latino men.  If they prefer an educated Latina, they will not find her in higher education.  You should make this article applicable to both sexes. We tend to be attracted to what or who we are surrounded by.  Nice piece.

  9. i have to say i am dating a half hispanic man..i am what yall call white even though i get as dark as my half mexican man because i am really “cajun” but some people automatically call people that arent almost black white because they lack the intelligence or care to know what that person or where that person really comes from because they are so self absorbed with their own race no other race matters to them or even exists except for theres…whew that was a long vent..anywho getting at it my race and culure and traditions i feel are beind diluted…with nothing but hispanic values and culture…this is not good..also the mexican women in his family refer to me as “white girl” and they are racist!! this will probably split me and my man up as i am very hot headed!! and i take up for my race! and do nothing but compliment his race while his downs me and dilutes mine!! and another thing why is it that everytime one of those mexican women open their mouth it is “first off im mexican”! i dont get it!

  10. Your comment–“Also, when we go to nice
    restaurants, particularly with his family, the Mexican busboys look at
    me with confusion and sometimes judgment and disappointment. I can’t
    express to you how awkward and guilty I feel at these moments.” –struck
    me as rather strange. Busboys are the only Mexicans you run into?
    That said, however, love is grand.

  11. I do not know what to say. It is nice that everyone else is validating you in the comments box but there are too many biracial chicanos…or rather “hispanics” and “latinos” that end up not caring once cent and have all kinds of issues . Believe me, I am around them enough and quite frankly they are exasperating. That is because they will be racialized and become part of the new “melting pot” that will try to drown out whatever mexican/xicana/indigenous in them. And quite frankly you may not be able to change those things or change who they become.

    If this world were a different place and people could genuinely have real understanding then it would be fine. But we do not live in that world. Maybe we will get there at some point in human evolution. We can perhaps try to create something new and fresh but it was already created. Remember 500 years ago? The beginning of colonial Latin America. Indians did not care or bother with racial categories when the “new world” was discovered because they had no concept of race as the Europeans understood it. From an indigenous perspective, race does not matter in that way, and I
    think it still holds true if you get really down with it. Our mixing came as a result of rape and forming interracial relationships.   But we have passed 500 years and the results were not spectacular in terms of social, political and social order.  And that is because the Latin American class and racial system have not really inched anywhere and if you think about it, the same is occurring in the United States.  But you know this, I think, if you were the militant xicana you claim to be. Part of being a Xicana or Xicano involves making difficult choices in your daily lives because we are far from understanding the legacy of our own physical and mental genocide. Barely forty years after the movement a lot of us are recuperating our old traditions and practices and it feels nice that we are moving in that direction and evolving to incorporate the old and new. It took 460 years to start that again and it is a slow process. For only a tiny minority that process never stopped, it went into hiding. But when you really think about it, it is sad that we are barely finding our bearings and recalibrating our minds. And this is awesome because as you know, many of us carry heavy emotional baggage from our lives and that of our ancestors. Like, we have to cleanse ourselves and it is hard work. Some of us Xicanos are lazy ’cause it takes work and discipline to work on yourself. But it is crazy, it took 460 years to set of a movement that would take us in that direction.  So, I am just perplexed by your decision.

    Perhaps you should brush up on Sherman Alexie or Cherrie Moraga.

    A Xicana Codex of Changing Consciousness.  (Duke, 2010)

    “to marry an Indian woman (man)”..and “to give birth to and raise Indian children who love themselves,” …(including loving)…” their sex organs and their sexual desires.” (7)

    Not that this is going to change your mind. I am not convincing you of anything. I just do not know what to say to you. I am like those mexican waiters in the restaurants.

    I tell myself.

    Maybe you are taking prisoners. Are you?

    Perhaps you think you have arrived at a certain destination and decided that your end point was there.

    Maybe you believe the act of Love will surpass all kinds of possibilities and be some kinda of radical love.  You might be on the right path, who knows?  You also feel brave somehow, strutting your business, like some women of color who like to celebrate and write about their interracial love. But it feels superficial because all of them including yourself justify it by writing this sort of piece showing that “they are really nice to me”. It is a narrative to finding oneself, the eat, pray, and love kinda of thing ’cause that is how all of this sounds.  And of course you get the attention by jezebel and others because it makes white people feel good about themselves. They are “really nice” and kind, ya know. It assuages their collective guilt.  But collective guilt is assuaged by real concrete action towards Xicana/os and other people of color. Like some real Xicana/o real stories, ya know?  Why do you think you are featured? And why is the only story on Jezebel about any Xicana gotta involve some white dude? I know cause I read Jezebel every week.  I read Jezebel and always forget that we exist.  We do not exist for the mainstream media. And that is because our  absence and erasure in the press is so deafening and so thorough in this country.

    But I thought, maybe you never sold out, you were already there.

    • I am a Latina in an interracial relationship with a brown man and although I am glad the author found love, I couldn’t help thinking that our story would never be featured on a website Jezebel. It falls under the category of “brown people issues” like any other issue that affects our communities unless white people are somehow involved.

      @smd I guess using the word “Latin@” could be interpreted as not being radicalized or politically aware in the Xicano community, but it does represent me very well as a Salvadoran-American, both politically and culturally. I hope the quotes did not indicate disdain for us as well because I take enough shit from white people for using that word with all the soft ‘t’ implies, I don’t expect to hear it from our people as well.

        • ARENA is the reason my family is in danger every day. I am nobody’s slave and you don’t get to decide that being Latina means that for me.

          • i don’t decide what a lot of plantation owners do – being a “LATIN” o/a means your identity in rooted of those who COLONIZED us.  that is a SLAVE MENTALITY. if you don’t believe me ask fanon, malcolm x, and see above (moraga) – even 1/2 white cherrie knows this but she doesn’t tip toe around the issue she takes a STAND. 

    • Maybe you have your own problem with racism especially for a people as a race that didn’t exist 500 years ago! When you are going to shoot,shoot done talk, when your have a point make it Tuco!

  12. I grew up in Mexico and came at the age of 17, i am currently in college and in a interracial relationship. All of my friends have told me that i am racist, and as a woman of color i should not date a white man. What they do not understand is that, we do love and understand each other despite the differences. As a very poor immigrant, i have experienced more racism within my community. Despite all of the differences he understands my struggles, and his family has been very nice to me. Thank you for this article!!! 

  13. i’m from a latin american country (argentina)…  i have green eyes,  freckles and a very pale complexion…. but because i’m from latin america am i supposed to be  from a different “race” than a woman who has green eyes, frekles and a very pale compexion but was born in USA?
    i don’t understand. (i love “el chavo” by the way, i grew up with his show!!!)

  14. As a college educated woman in a interracial relationship I enjoyed and understood your dilemma about dating/loving someone out of your race and the cultural differences that can be awkward.  I believe love is blind to color and opposites attract, at least in our case. We have been married for 15 years and have a 12 yr old son. However,  I am white and my husband is Mexican.

    Funny thing is we have experienced more racism and negativity from the hispanic community where we reside than from anyone else. My family and friends gave him a chance, they got to know him and they like and accept him as one of the family. His family however, (and many other hispanics in our area) frequently make sideways comments to me and even to our son. And I too get many dirty looks….. from hispanic women! So apparently no matter what race you are there are still those who have issues with interracial relationships and  don’t approve of someone (of another race)  dating “one of theirs”!

  15. My Mexican American mami was born in the 40s, and married my white father not too long after it became “legal”.  She has described some of the same awkward/shame moments too.  In any event, here’s to love, and I enjoyed your article.

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